Texas A&M Cadets and Texas Army National Guard Soldiers Given Opportunity to Test Future Technology
Patrick Seiber, BCDC Public Relations
Texas A&M Army ROTC cadets hear from PdM RCV leaders about opportunities to serve the military in and out of uniform at BCDC. (Photo by Patrick Seiber, George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex Public Relations)
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – There were lots of smiles at Texas A&M-RELLIS in mid-February as Texas A&M University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, Texas Army National Guard soldiers and researchers were working together on potential future robotic vehicles that are under development with the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems Product Manager Robotic Combat Vehicle (PdM RCV).
PdM RCV, along with members of the Army Futures Command Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, both from Warren, Michigan, spent most of January and February conducting research at the Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) at the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC). PdM RCV served as the first customer for the recently opened IPG.
“As the IPG was designed to support our strategic partnership with Army Futures Command, we were proud to have an Army organization serve as our first customer,” said John Diem, director for the 134-acre IPG. “Having PdM RCV here — as well as soldiers and cadets — alongside our own staff, doing meaningful research that will impact both current and future soldiers demonstrates the capability of what IPG was designed to do.”
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station received $50 million during the 2019 Texas Legislative session to support instrumentation on the IPG. The IPG contains a 34-acre Maneuver Challenge Course designed to test vehicles’ specific capabilities, as well as a 100-acre Off-Road Test Area to evaluate employment or mission capabilities. Both of these areas are surrounded by a state-of-the-art AT&T 5G network on the west side of the RELLIS campus.
A highlight of PdM RCV’s time here was the opportunity to work with soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard and members of the Corps of Cadets.
“Soldier feedback is a critical component of any type of equipment experiment,” said Steve Herrick, deputy project manager for PdM RCV. “We look forward to reviewing the data and applying lessons learned as we continue to move forward with the Robotic Combat Vehicle program.”
For the cadets, it provided a unique opportunity outside of their normal ROTC training. “It was unique to learn about the different branches and learn about other opportunities in the Army,” said Cadet Glenn Peacock, a junior in Company A-2 from Killeen, Texas. “It was eye-opening to see this technology firsthand and learn how prototypes are designed to meet the needs of the force, particularly our infantry soldiers.”
Cadet John Pineiro, a freshman from LaGrange, Texas, in Company B-2 recognizes that this technology will save the lives of soldiers. “It was cool seeing this technology. I saw a robot dog at Tyndall Air Force Base a few years ago and was impressed by how it was saving lives. What we’ve witnessed today gives me a chance to think about career paths and other opportunities. I appreciate the ability we had to see this technology.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Tim Green serves as the director for BCDC and was involved in its initial concept design in 2018-19. “Having federal researchers, military service members, our researchers and cadets working together on accelerating technology for our military really gets after the intent of why both the Texas Legislature and Board of Regents agreed on the need to develop the BCDC,” he said. “It’s an honor for our team to serve and see this vision from back then now becoming a reality.”
Texas A&M Army ROTC cadets receive instruction on how to use future technology that has been undergoing testing at BCDC. (Photo taken by Patrick Seiber, BCDC Public Relations)
Cadets from the Texas A&M Army ROTC receive a briefing from Product Manager Robotic Combat Vehicle leadership about the ongoing experiment at the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex at Texas A&M-RELLIS in Bryan, Texas. (Photo taken by Patrick Seiber, BCDC Public Relations)
Texas A&M Army ROTC cadets observe the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light during an experiment at BCDC. (Photo taken by Patrick Seiber, BCDC Public Relations)
Texas Army National Guard soldiers and Texas A&M Army ROTC cadets gather around the RCV-Light for a photo at the end of the PdM RCV experiment at BCDC. (Photo taken by Patrick Seiber, BCDC Public Relations)